More examples of a specific type of metaphorical 'pun' in song lyrics?
June 22, 2013 2:45 PM Subscribe
I really like metaphors and I really like song lyrics. Every once in a while I run across a particular type of cleverly extended metaphor in a song lyric. I'm trying to develop this idea a bit and looking for more examples of this particular thing. I've included some explanatory examples I've found.
posted by iamkimiam to Writing & Language (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Firewater's song '6:45 (so this is how it feels)' includes the line "The band's on fire / it's a pyre / and the bodies are burning." I really like how the metaphor of a 'band being a fire' is extended on both sides of the equation. That is, on one side, the band is really good (hot, on fire) and the audience is dancing (or really into it, metaphorical proximity of catching their 'fire'). On the other side the band is the wood of a fire, in the formation of pyre (raised on a round stage) and the audience is all the closely surrounding kindling, catching fire as well.
Another song, Chuck Prophet's 'Pin a Rose on Me' does a similar thing, but requires some context. He's singing about someone he wishes he could be with but she's in a relationship with someone else; he sees danger signs in their relationship but she is oblivious to those things (hence, 'pin a rose on me' for being so clever to no real benefit). Two lines in the song do this same extended metaphorical pun thing (actually many more lines of this song do, and they relate to each other, but in the interest of getting to the point here...):
"You saw a light, I saw a freight train coming."
In this line, he's saying that she sees goodness but he sees the inevitable crash. At the same time he's saying that she's blinded by the light at the front of the train but from his vantage point he sees the entire train heading toward her.
"You heard the bells, I heard a hammer falling."
In this line, he's saying that she hears music of (possibly wedding) bells, but he hears (again) the objects crashing into each other. At the same time he's saying that while she hears the bell's chime, he hears the part that came just before (the action of the hammer striking the bell).
What these lines all have in common is that there is parallelism between the relationships of the objects in the metaphor's source domain (e.g., the parts of a fire, or parts of a train, or parts of bells) and the relationships of the objects in the target domain — the elements of a performance (band, audience, stage, etc.), of a relationship/life, of a promise of the future. You could also make a case that the mapping is illustrated so well that the definition of which is source material (the thing used to describe some experience) and which is target (the thing being described) could conceivably swap places.
I'd love to know more examples of these in song. They're really clever and please me to no end.